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19.10.2006 General News

Tsikata Shocks:… Sends presiding judge packing

By chronicle
Tsikata Shocks:… Sends presiding judge packing
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THE FORMER Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) boss, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, who is standing trial at the Fast Track Court (FTC) on charges of causing financial loss to the state, has pulled another shocker sending a higher court spooling on the ground.

Before an Appeal Court could pronounce its ruling on an appeal brought by the legal mogul for consideration with regards to whether or not the International Financial Corporation (IFC) has immunity from all court processes, Mr. Tsikata yesterday raised another legal objection against the panel of judges looking into the issue.

This turn of events culminated in the stalling of the scheduled ruling of the Court of Appeal.

Prof. E.V.O. Dankwa, Counsel for Tsikata, raised an objection to the fact that the presiding judge, Justice S.Y. Anim, had already sat in one of his appeal cases that concerned his trial for 'causing financial loss' to the state.

According to Counsel, Justice Anim was on a panel of judges who decided on his case on May 28, 2002 and it would therefore be inappropriate for him to decide on this appeal that concerns the one he had already participated in pronouncing a ruling on.

The objection raised in chambers found its way into the open court when the court, presided over by Justice S.Y. Anim, with Justices Anin-Yeboah and Kusi Appiah as panel members, impressed upon Prof. Dankwa to make his objection before the open court.

Counsel however declined to raise the issue in open court, indicating that he was of the view that the issue should be dealt with in-camera.

The panel subsequently retired into chambers after the court tried unsuccessfully to get the learned law lecturer to raise his objection in order for it to be heard in open court and be part of the court proceedings.

After some few minutes, the court was empanelled once more to pronounce its decision on the objections raised by Counsel for the former GNPC boss.

In its ruling, the court upheld the objection to the panel, subsequently causing Justice Anim to decline jurisdiction in order for the panel to be re-constituted to appropriately deal with the appeal before the court.

The case was therefore adjourned sine die (i.e. indefinitely).

The basis of Tsikata's appeal before the court intimated that the statute under which the IFC was established in the country does not grant it immunity from testifying in a case pending before a court of competent jurisdiction.

According to the former GNPC chief executive, the IFC Country Director under the statute does not have immunity from bearing witness in the case brought against him before the FTC.

However, the state prosecution in its rebuff of the assertions made by the counsel for the former GNPC boss noted that FTC was absolutely right in sustaining the arguments advanced by counsel for IFC, when the case was heard at the FTC, that the World Bank affiliate had immunity from all court processes.

State prosecution asserted that duties of the IFC had to be performed by its officers and for that matter the officers of the IFC are also affected by the immunity.

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